Causes, symptoms and treatment of endemic goiter

An increase in the size of the thyroid gland caused by iodine deficiency in the body is called endemic goiter . Chronic iodine deficiency leads to proliferation of thyroid tissue, its functionality changes. This disease is especially characteristic for some regions in which the environment contains a small amount of iodine, as well as in regions with increased radiation + radiation. But the bulk of iodine is ingested through food. The disease is conditionally divided into three forms according to the functional state: euthyroid, hyperthyroid and hypothyroid goiter. The form of goiter is diffuse, nodular and mixed. 

Causes of Endemic Goiter

The main reason for the development of endemic goiter disease can be an unbalanced diet, when a person does not consume iodine-containing foods: fish, meat, seaweed, shrimp, dairy products, oat and buckwheat, and many others. The daily requirement of iodine is replenished by a person by 90% due to nutrition.  

The second possible cause is a disease of the gastrointestinal tract, due to which there is poor absorption of trace elements of iodine, so there may be a deficiency of this element in the body, even if a person’s diet is saturated with iodine-containing products.

Some medications, with prolonged regular intake, can provoke a lack of iodine in the body, since their side effect blocks the absorption of iodine. Very often, an endemic goiter appears due to a hereditary factor in a genetic defect in the production of thyroid hormones.  


The first thing that happens with severe iodine deficiency is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Very often, a concomitant disease develops – hypothyroidism. The body is trying to compensate for the deficiency by increasing the mass of the thyroid gland. Which leads to the appearance of the following symptoms:

  • weakness;
  • discomfort in the heart;
  • poor physical stamina;
  • headache.

These symptoms appear at the initial stage of the development of the disease. A further picture appears with the following symptoms:

  • sensations of pressure in the neck;
  • asthma attacks;
  • dry cough;
  • difficulty breathing and swallowing.

A symptom of a more severe stage of endemic goiter is the development of goiter, which is expressed in the expansion and hyperfunction of the right atrium and ventricle. A complication can be hemorrhage of the thyroid gland, malignant degeneration of the disease, as well as acute and subacute thyroiditis.   

Diagnosis and treatment

An endemic goiter disease is diagnosed thanks to blood and urine tests, as well as an ultrasound scan, which can be used to determine the form and nature of the disease.  

The type of treatment depends on the degree of thyroid hyperplasia: if the increase is small, then several courses of Potassium Iodide and diet therapy are enough for treatment. With a more complex degree of the disease, hormone replacement therapy is prescribed.

The nodular form of endemic goiter, in which large and rapidly growing nodes compress the surrounding organs, is treated at the late stage of the disease by surgical intervention. After surgery, the patient is prescribed thyroid hormones to prevent relapse of goiter.

As an effective prevention of the development of this disease, people are advised to regularly take iodized salt in food, which should be added to food after its preparation, since iodine trace elements are destroyed immediately when heated .

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